- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2015

A longtime Democratic power broker in New York state politics was arrested Thursday on corruption charges that accuse him of using his position as Assembly speaker to get more than $4 million in kickbacks and contributing to a “show-me-the-money” political culture.

Sheldon Silver, a stalwart of the Empire State’s politics for nearly four decades, was arrested Thursday by the FBI and accused of taking bribes that were masked as attorney-referral fees.

In the criminal complaint filed against Mr. Silver, federal law enforcement officials said that since 2000, he has “willfully and knowingly” lied to voters and tried to obstruct justice.

“For more than a decade, Silver repeatedly has represented publicly that his outside income as a private lawyer is derived from private citizens who seek him out for legal services in personal injury matters, and that none of his clients has any business before the state,” the court document read.

But instead, officials claim, Mr. Silver used his position to broker deals with law firms, doctors and others, sending clients or money their way in exchange for kickbacks. The initial criminal complaint has charged Mr. Silver with using a half-million dollars in state money to fund his schemes and to hand out to his confidants.

“As today’s charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain,” said a statement from Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Politicians are supposed to be on the people’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interests they do favors for.”

Mr. Silver, 70, told reporters in New York that he was “confident that after a full hearing and due process, I’ll be vindicated on the charges.”

The case has also added to tension between the New York state government and federal Justice Department.

After accusations of improper payments to Mr. Silver, the state launched a commission to investigate. But after receiving some pushback from Mr. Silver himself, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, stopped the commission last year.

Into the void stepped Mr. Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who restarted the investigation and less than a year later has filed corruption charges against Mr. Silver.

The city will soon likely have to contend with another of their U.S. attorneys. Loretta Lynch, attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is President Obama’s pick for the next attorney general.

According to Mr. Silver’s official New York state bio, he lives with his wife on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, near where he was born. He was first elected to the general assembly in 1976.

Mr. Silver’s office did not immediately return reporters’ phone calls Thursday.

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